Pomegranate Jelly Recipe

Pomegranate Jelly

Jelly jars cooling
Jelly jars cooling

How To Make Pomegranate Jelly

With a bit of patience and a long afternoon, you can make your own homemade pomegranate jelly. Much of the mess usually associated with jelly making is contained by crushing the pomegranate seeds inside a Ziplock or zipper-style plastic bag and pouring off the resulting juice - no need for cheesecloth or strainers.  Clean up any spilled juice quickly, as pomegranates stain.

Ingredients

8-10 large ripe pomegranates or 3 1/2 cups of pomegranate juice

5 cups of sugar

1 packet liquid pectin

1 T lemon juice

Canning Supplies

3-4 pint-sized canning jars or 6 half-pint jars

3-6 canning lids with bands (one set for each jar)

4 or 5 quart pot

Large stock pot, big enough to hold 2-4 pint-sized canning jars

Canning tongs (regular tongs will work in a pinch)

Gallon sized Ziplock bags

Clean kitchen towels

Seed and Juice Pomegranates

Slice off the blossom end of the pomegranate, then make several short cuts radiating outward from the blossom end, like spokes, into the pomegranate skin. Place a large bowl of water in the sink. From here, you can break apart and peel the pomegranate in the bowl of water to keep the mess down. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Collect the seeds and place them in a large gallon-sized Ziplock bag. Continue seeding at least six of the pomegranates, collecting the seeds in the Ziplock. (You may need to divide up the seeds into more than one Ziplock bag.)

When you've collected seeds from your pomegranates, squeeze out all the air from the Ziplock bag and seal the bag. With a rolling pin or your hands, squish the pomegranate seeds in the Ziplock bag.

Carefully open one corner of the Ziplock and pour off the juice into a glass measuring cup. Continue seeding and juicing until you have collected 3 1/2 cups of pomegranate juice.

Note: If you are short on juice, but have no more pomegranates, you can add up to 1/2 cup of water or cranberry juice to make up the shortfall.

Preparing Jars, Lids, and the Canning Bath

There are at least two schools of thought when it comes to sterilizing jars and lids. In one method, you put a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Place the jars into the boiling water and boil for 5 minutes, and then reduce the heat and add the lids and bands. Then simmer the jars, lids and bands in hot water until you're ready to fill the jars.

In the next method, you put your jars, lids, and bands into the dishwasher and wash them, holding them in the hot dishwasher until you're ready to fill the jars. I use the dishwasher method, because it's easier, I know that it gets hot enough to sterilize everything, and because I know how to time the cooking of the jelly to coincide with the dishwasher cycle.

In any case, it is very important to sterilize your jars and lids and have them ready to go as soon as the jelly is cooked.

The Canning Bath

After your jelly jars are filled, you'll boil the jars in a canning bath. This means that the bath must be ready to go when all your jars are filled with the hot jelly.

Before beginning the cooking process, prepare your canning bath. Fill your large stock pot with water, enough so that the jars will be covered by at least one inch of water when they are placed in the bath. Heat the water to boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer until you are ready to can.

You can buy a canning pot with a rack to hold the jars, but it isn't absolutely necessary. The rack is nice because it keeps the jars in place and away from the heating element of your stove. I've found, though, that you can simply put the filled jelly jars into a regular large stock pot without using a canning rack, and it works just fine.

Cooking the Jelly

In a large pot (4 quart size, approximately) mix together pomegranate juice, lemon juice, and sugar over medium-high heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes to a rolling boil.

Note: A rolling boil is one that does not stir down with a spoon.

When the mixture is boiling, add the liquid pectin all at once and keep stirring. Bring the mixture back up to a rolling boil. Once the mixture is boiling, set your timer for one minute. Stir the mixture and boil for a full minute.  Turn off the heat and remove jelly from burner.

Fill Jars With Jelly

Before filling the jars with jelly, turn up the heat on the boiling water bath to bring water to boiling again.

While waiting for the water to boil, take out your sterilized jars, lids, and rings from the dishwasher (or from their boiling water bath) and place on a clean towel. Using a ladle, carefully fill the jars to within 1/4 inch from the rim. This usually is to the first screw-line on the jar. Using another damp towel, wipe the rims of the jars and along the edges so that the lids will have a clean seal.

Carefully place a lid (seal) onto a hot jar. Holding the lid down on the middle, screw the band onto the jar, which will seat the seal. The band should be finger-tight. Repeat with the remaining jars.

Process the Jars

 The jars of jelly are now ready to be processed in a boiling water bath.  Using tongs, carefully place the jars into the boiling water bath.  The water should completely cover the jars by about an inch, add more water if necessary.  Bring the water to a boil and boil the jars for 5 minutes.  Remove the jars from the bath and place on a clean towel.

It is important at this time to leave the jars alone so that the vacuum seal can properly form.  You'll hear the lids "ping" when the seals form.

Allow the jars to cool completely at room temperature.  Resist the urge to re-tighten the bands, as this may break the seal.  Using a Sharpie marker, write the canning date on the lid.  The jelly may be stored for up to a year in the cupboard. 

Final Thoughts

I like making pomegranate jelly this way because the color of the jelly stays fresh and crimson, unlike what you usually see in commercially made jelly. I think that juicing the seeds in Ziplocks helps capture the truest flavor of the pomegranates. Even though you don't get as much juice this way as you would by reaming the whole fruit, the color and flavor makes the extra work worth the effort, in my opinion.

It may take some time for the jelly to come to a rolling boil. Remember that if you can stir it down, it's not rolling. I like to think of a rolling boil as a "roiling boil." It's a hard, angry boil that is relentless.

This recipe generally makes 2 full pints of jelly with about a cup or so extra. Ball makes a small plastic "freezer jam" cup with a screw-top lid that is perfect for the extra jelly.

Check the lids after a 24 hour cooling period to make sure the seals formed. Test by pressing the center of the lid with your finger. If the lid flexes, the seal didn't form. You can store the jars that didn't seal in the refrigerator or freezer and use the jelly within a couple of months.

Sometimes, jelly doesn't set up the way it is supposed to. You can recook it and try again, or you can use the soft jelly as an ice-cream topping or other dessert sauce. Try it with strawberry shortcake. If it is really syrupy, add San Pelegrino water and drink it over ice. Or freeze it in shallow pans and use a fork to scrape it up into pomegranate ice.

If you're pressed for time, you can seed and juice the pomegranates one day and then cook up the jelly on another. To save even more time, you can simply make freezer jelly using the plastic Ball jam cups, and not even bother with processing jars at the end.

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